As Real As Anything – Hen & Chickens Theatre, London

Reviewer: Christine Stanton

Writer: Andrew Cartmel

Director: Jenny Eastop

When playwright Jake decides to do a revival of Molly’s Estate – a play that raised his public profile in the past, it makes sense to reunite the original team together for another shot at success, now they all have more wisdom and experience under their belts. During the original run director Duncan and lead actor Rosie had a steamy affair, but history doesn’t always repeat itself, right?

While the premise of this show has the foundations of being an intriguing story about infidelity, deception and inter-character dynamics, it never quite gets off of the starting blocks. The script, written by Andrew Cartmel, is relatively old fashioned, skirting around the possibility of drama instead of delving right into it. Multiple opportunities to build up conflict or unravel human behaviour and instinct are swept aside for empty discussions and wasted interactions. As the narrative stumbles towards the abrupt finish, there is no real resolution – because rather than it being a ‘sexy, poetic, deeply moving tale’ as described – it is instead just a series of banal conversations.

Jamie Hutchins (Jake) and Kelsey Short (Rosie) really stand out within the show, both very convincing in their roles and comfortable on stage. Alasdair Shanks (Duncan) and Rosie Edwards (Gwen) open the show with some promising debate, setting the scene quickly for the future of their relationship.

Unfortunately, the actors don’t have strong chemistry together on stage, with most exchanges appearing stilted and awkward. What should be illicitly passionate scenes are wooden and uncomfortable, further diluting the already light script. The show would benefit from director Jenny Eastop bringing more unity within the cast, creating natural interactions between each pair to engage the audience further into the narrative. Many scenes are played extremely theatrically, pronouncing each line with great exaggeration and over-dramatized gestures. While this could work in a bigger storyline or a tale with a farcical nature, it doesn’t quite work with this intimate backstory.

If just a few minutes of filler were replaced with some more emotionally charged, realistic reactions, the overall mood of this show would completely change, and become the gripping, poignant commentary on relationships and monogamy that it needs in order to thrive.

Runs until 9 July 2022

The Reviews Hub Score

Light script, lacking chemistry

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The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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